Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 2, Pages 305-327

By Adam Johnson

Part 2, Pages 305-327

  • Sun Moon changes her mind about Casablanca—she absolutely must see it. With 90 minutes of charge on the laptop, they get ready for a nonstop Ingrid Bergman/Humphrey Bogart experience.
  • Ga has to translate into Korean for Sun Moon, and at first things don't go well. Sun Moon is disappointed that there's no singing, no glorification of anything, no portrayal of real problems.
  • Sun Moon doesn't understand why Bergman's character can't just settle down with the nice Victor Laszlo. But then things change.
  • Sun Moon begins to see similarities between herself and the characters. By the end, she's crying—which is the proper response to Casablanca, of course.
  • But Sun Moon's crying because the black-and-white purity of the film makes her "acting in color" pale in comparison.
  • Sun Moon vows to go to the place where this film was made. She'll need a letter of transit, just like Rick and Ilsa.
  • Ga tells Sun Moon that it's just a movie, but she goes on: Ga is like Rick, and he will get them out. Ga feels a little freaked out by this.
  • Ga wants to make his own choices in life and not be ruled by a character in an American film. Also, he's not sure that Sun Moon wants him in her life. And what about her kids? Would she leave them?
  • But no—Sun Moon accepts that impostor Ga is her husband now, and they all must go.
  • Ga asks Sun Moon if the real Commander Ga had a plan for when everything came crashing down. He did, she says, but it didn't include his wife and kids.
  • Ga promises that his own plans won't be like this.
  • The Interrogator can't sleep for thinking about himself and Commander Ga. He feels that they are alike in some ways—both are essentially nameless. They both also don't know the fates of people in their lives.
  • It occurs to the Interrogator that once he writes a biography, he doesn't really know what becomes of the person. He feels that if can write Ga's biography, he will also be writing his own.
  • Down on the street below, the Interrogator can see workers being rounded up for some detail or other. He asks his father, who he assumes is also awake, if this is all there is to life. He gets no response.
  • When the Interrogator gets back to Division 42, another member of his team is missing. The percentages have been bad for his team—they're really dwindling.
  • The Interrogator takes his team to search Sun Moon's and Comrade Buc's houses. They find the tunnel with the rice and DVDs, but the garden has been harvested.
  • Q-Kee makes some deductions based on the arrangement of things in the bathroom and the bedroom. Ga and Sun Moon were in love, but they haven't had sex.
  • The interrogators note that only one of Sun Moon's dresses is gone. Q-Kee understands that the dresses in the closet were costumes from Sun Moon's movies, and she feels she can figure out which dress is missing if she's given a little time.
  • In Comrade Buc's house, the interrogators find only a secret stash of miniature Bibles. They divide the rice and DVDs, but chuck the Bibles out the window.
  • The Interrogator continues to work with Ga, but he's not getting what he wants: the location of Sun Moon's body.
  • But the Interrogator also wants something else: to understand how Ga got from showing up at Sun Moon's door as the murderer of her husband to the point of sharing a bed and bathroom with her.
  • What the Interrogator really wants to know is how to be loved.
  • And this is where the dynamic shifts between these two men. Ga starts asking questions. Is the Interrogator in love? Does the woman he loves mind what he does for a living?
  • The Interrogator is a little surprised. What's so bad about his work? He saves people from the Pubyok, after all.
  • The Interrogator throws the question back at Ga: why should he have been worthy of Sun Moon's love? Ga was just a replacement husband. Who loves those?
  • It suddenly occurs to the Interrogator that perhaps he, too, is a replacement. Had his parents had children before him? They were kind of old, and they seemed distant from him.
  • The Interrogator decides to take a look at his parents' files, just to make sure, but he doesn't find anything noteworthy. It seems to have been only him from the beginning.
  • When he returns to Division 42, the Interrogator realizes that Q-Kee is cozying up to Sarge. He also notices that he's wickedly behind on his workload: 11 unfinished cases.
  • The Interrogator has even forgotten to check on his easiest case, a nurse who had flirted with a South Korean officer. He had taken her in five days ago.
  • By the time the Interrogator gets to her, this nurse is really eager to denounce everyone she knows and confess to anything.
  • Despite this, the Interrogator hooks the nurse up to the autopilot. He touches her so that he can feel the electricity moving through her body.
  • The Interrogator thinks back on his days as an intern, when he and his co-worker Leonardo performed lobotomies on most subjects. But the lobotomies didn't produce the desired results. Instead of creating happy, dedicated workers, they made zombies out of everyone. No work could be done on the labor farms with these people.
  • This experience made the Interrogator want to improve their methods.
  • The autopilot was "test driven" by him and his crew. It delivered electric shocks designed to peel away a subject's personality and desire to resist.
  • The nurse is getting her fair share now, so much so that the Interrogator can smell ozone in the room.
  • It's back to impostor Ga, who is fulfilling his promise to the Dear Leader to oversee a replica of the Senator's Texas ranch. He meets Comrade Buc on the site—who hands him the pair of cowboy boots he had had to leave behind at the store in Texas.
  • Ga changes the real Ga's shoes for the boots, which are a better fit.
  • Buc wonders if the set-up looks enough like Texas. Ga tells him that the Dear Leader has never been there, so who cares?
  • Ga reflects on a conversation he had with Sun Moon that morning. She wanted him to confirm that her husband was really, truly never coming back. She was afraid he might pop up again. Ga told her she would never see him again—but in her mind, that's not the same thing as saying that Commander Ga is dead.
  • For sure he's dead, impostor Ga said. It's just that it was dark down there. And things were crazy. And he'd refused to crush his skull with a stone, like Mongnan suggested.
  • What if Ga had only very nearly killed the real Commander Ga? That would be awkward.
  • As he surveys "Texas," Ga thinks of Dr. Song, who is now dead. He asks Buc what will happen if, despite their work, the Dear Leader isn't happy.
  • After all, Dr. Song followed all the rules.
  • Buc shows Ga a ridiculously enormous branding iron. It says "Property of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea"—we kid you not.
  • Ga laughs at the branding iron but assures Buc that it's spelled correctly.
  • Ga then confesses to Buc his worries about possibly maybe not exactly having absolutely killed Commander Ga in the mine.
  • Now it's Buc's turn to reassure Ga. They would have heard by now if Commander Ga were still alive.
  • Impostor Ga tries to hint that Buc should maybe distance himself from him—for the sake of his wife and girls.
  • Buc gets suspicious. Ga explains that he and Sun Moon's family will be leaving on the American plane when the delegation goes. They're defecting.
  • Now Buc is mad that he knows. Why would Ga tell him such a thing? He's placed Buc in danger.
  • Ga changes the subject by saying that the gigantic branding iron will probably kill the ox they procured for the branding demonstration.
  • Though Comrade Buc is angry with Ga for telling him his plans, he believes that Ga has a chance of making it. He feels that Ga is extraordinary in some ways.
  • Buc asks if Ga is in love with Sun Moon. Could he live without her? No, Ga says.
  • Buc tells Ga that if he chooses to go with Sun Moon, the chances of making it are average. If, however, he stayed by the Dear Leader's side and distracted him, her chances would be good.
  • It's convenient for another reason: Comrade Buc won't be the one to suffer for the defection, since Ga himself will be around to do that.
  • Buc promises to help Ga through the repercussions if he stays in North Korea.
  • At this moment, Commander Park approaches and says there's been a change of plans.
  • Back in the Dear Leader's bunker, Ga learns that the Americans won't even be leaving the tarmac on their visit to North Korea. He tells Ga that they have to move the ranch to the airport.
  • The Dear Leader is humiliated by the American plan, so he's trying to think of a humiliating gift to give them. He's leaning toward rhinoceros-horn bookends.
  • Ga also thinks they should give back the pallets of food a Texas church group had sent for them when they made the trip. And, he says, they should give back the dog, Brando.
  • In lieu of the Bibles that were also sent home with them, they could offer Kim Jong Il's latest work on opera.
  • The Dear Leader is pleased by this, and he decides to show Ga something important.

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